• dream •

Min Yoongi from BTS released a mixtape a few months ago. I can’t appreciate the language found in most of the songs. But I appreciate the honesty and transparency of the messages so much and have so much respect for this young songwriter and musician.

My favorite song off the album is Dream. The English translations aren’t 100% and there’s more language in some versions than others, but the message really hits me hard because it’s exactly what I’ve dealt with for the last several years.

We’re told to go to university, pursue education, get a job that pays well. We’ll be happy then. When we make six figures a year, we’ll be happy. So endure it for now. Just go to school, get a good job.

When I was younger, I swore I’d never become that person. I’d never believe the lie that money solves our problems; I’d never become miserable because of that. But I kind of am. I’m happy to expand my horizons and learn. I’m miserable because I do it only to please everyone but myself and to pursue a goal that’s not mine. I’m miserable because I don’t care for the money but that’s what my goal is supposed to be.

I’m told that these pressures will go away once I graduate and am in charge of my life. I know that’s a lie. Maybe it’s one they believe, but I know it’s not true because they push me to do this because it’s what they believe is best and if I don’t follow the path I’m choosing, then I’ll be considered a failure and I will disappoint. I understand and I’m grateful to be cared for. I just wish people cared with the right mindset.

We follow this path because we feel that we have no alternative. We do it to please our families. We do it to make sure they don’t feel that they’ve failed us or us them.

Yoongi says that not having a dream just led to loneliness and wondering what was wrong with him because, while his friends pursued their goals and lived, he was left not knowing what he was doing and why he didn’t have a dream. I understand that. My friends know what they want to do. Whether they pursue it or not is up to them, but they at least have a direction.

I’m following a path semi-constructed for me. I’m not passionate about my major. It’s interesting, it’s useful. But I’m not satisfied. I’m not sure all this time, frustration, and money is worth it to me. It is to my family because it’s the path they chose or wish they’d chosen. But I can’t see that.

To me, it just seems like we spend so much time chasing goals that don’t fulfill us because other people – people we trust – said they’re important. When I die, will I care that I made six figures a year for forty years? Will I care that I did well in school? Will I care about what I spent my life on?

Right now, I don’t think so.

And I’m confused because I’ve proven to myself over and over that I can do anything (thank you, God, for those opportunities and getting me through). I’ve overcome so many obstacles. I’ve done well in school, in public speaking, in debate. I’m a hard worker. I don’t think many other people have had the opportunities I’ve had at this age to prove that to themselves.

So I’m wondering why I can’t choose a path happily when I know that I can succeed walking any of them.

I’m trying to do everything with love, but I feel dry. Uninspired. Drained. Tired. Frustrated. So much is going for me and I appreciate it. It’s just hard to appreciate things when that’s not what’s important to me.

If you can, I encourage you to listen to Dream and absorb the lyrics even just once. I like this version because the translation is presented in a very beautiful way. Just be aware that there is an f-bomb and a d**** – I’m not happy about them, but the message is more powerful, I think, than those words.

My prayers are with you all.

Love,

Rana || xoxo

P.S.

Disclaimer: I don’t blame anyone for my path in life. I appreciate my friends and family very much. More so now than ever, I think, although I show it less than ever. I’m bad at communicating what’s important to me with people. I apologize and I love you all.

40 Days and a Writer’s Thoughts

Good afternoon, darling!

I’d like to split this post into two sections. One is more fun, but demands less of a priority for me. And the other is probably less interesting, but sits higher on the Important List. So, let’s go ahead and start with the one of more importance. 😛

1. Fat Tuesday and Lent

It’s no secret. I’m Catholic. We fast for the 40 days before we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection. This period is known as “Lent.” During this 40 day period, we abstain from meat on Fridays and, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we fast. Fasting means that we eat only one regular sized meal and are permitted two snacks before and after.

Why do you do this?

Check out this article and this article.

Essentially, though, it’s a time of discipline (the first article does a brilliant job of explaining this much better than I can). We take this time especially to put ourselves aside and make a harder effort to grow closer to God through sacrifices (this is where you might want to read the second article).

Here’s the opening paragraph of the first article (because it does a much better job of explaining than I could 😉 ):

“…Lent is the 40 days before Easter in which Catholics pray, fast, contemplate, and engage in acts of spiritual self-discipline. Catholics do these things because Easter, which celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, is the greatest holy day of the Christian year (even above Christmas) and Catholics have recognized that it is appropriate to prepare for such a holy day by engaging in such disciplines.”

And, because sacrifices start tomorrow… today is Fat Tuesday! Or Mardi Gras. Whichever you prefer. So, I’m binging on one of the best combinations invented by man: peanut butter and chocolate.

Only… this isn’t JUST peanut butter and chocolate.

No, ma’am/sir.

No.

It’s whipped peanut butter and a king sized Hershey’s chocolate bar.

Did you know there’s such a thing as whipped peanut butter?? I didn’t. Not until last year.

What are you giving up/adding?

I think I’m going to stop eating so much excess and eat only what I need. Your stomach is the size of your fist. So if I eat that much whenever I’m hungry (not bored, but hungry), it’ll be a decent sacrifice.

Also, I’m going to try to donate to those suffering in the Middle East from ISIS attacks and such. I’m trying to shift my focus from worldly possessions to eternal prizes. And I’m hoping that doesn’t sound cheesy. 😛 That’s not to say that you can buy eternal life. For me, it’s more trying to not be so attached to money.

I’m also going to try to devote more time to prayer as I think I’ve been lacking in that department of late…

But let’s go ahead and move on to the second topic:

2. A Thought On Writers

I’m scrolling through Pinterest as I often do during school time. (Don’t judge me. Or other homeschoolers. We’re just privileged jerks. But, mind you, I have a very strict school schedule and I get my crap done. This ain’t the little kids’ playground. Homeschooling requires an insane amount of self-discipline. But I digress.)

And, as I’m scrolling through Pinterest, I see nice pictures of nice-looking people.

Where I would see a psychotic villain, main character, or love interest, the rest of the world sees a picture that goes onto their board… “Cute Guys?” or “Girl Crush?”

I don’t know about you, but, to me, it just seems like writers are so much deeper than the average person. This is not to downgrade anyone else. Not at all! It just seems like writers and artists in general see so much more than the average.

They see a crumbled building. We see shelter for someone on the run or a villain’s HQ (although that can get a bit cheesy).

They see a good lookin’ actor. We see our next murderer.

They see hundreds of people dashing about in an airport. We wonder what their stories are.

Know what I mean?

Just as an artist notices the way light and shadow fall, writers notice people, places, ideas.

We can turn your simply “cute guy” into a con-man, drug dealer, son of an alcoholic, or murderer.

We can build worlds, races, lives.

We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. ~J.R.R. Tolkien

Peace, love, and blessings,

Rana

A Pessimist’s Take On The Holidays

Hello, lovely!

I have a question: What does Christmas mean to you and how do you feel during the holiday season?

While you’re thinking about that, let me go off on a little tangent and answer that myself.

What does Christmas mean to you?

We’d all like to say that the meaning of Christmas is about:

  • the birth of Jesus (if you’re Christian)
  • being with family
  • giving
  • being kinder to people

But none of that is really true to the fullest extent, is it? Nah. No. A more honest answer would be:

  • trying to get through the anxiety of finding stuff for people at the last minute
  • struggling through the already-obnoxious Christmas music
  • impatiently waiting to figure out what people got us
  • wondering why the heck we signed up to help with all those Christmas-themed happenings

The mentality, of course, should be more along the lines of the first list, but if we look at it through the lenses of reality, that’s not really what the holiday season is about as we celebrate it.

  • Thanksgiving is about the food. Without the foot, we probably wouldn’t look forward to Thanksgiving.holidays
  • Christmas is about the gifts. Without the presents, we probably wouldn’t look forward to Christmas.

New Years is about getting dressed up, partying ’till the morning, and setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Without the traditions, we probably wouldn’t celebrate anything.

Thanksgiving should be about reminding ourselves of where we came from and remembering what the kindness (of people who were not like us) did. Without them, many of us probably wouldn’t be alive today.

Christmas is about Jesus; remembering what He did for us – humbling Himself to be like us in everything but sin to save our pathetic lives. He cried, He got hungry, He felt pain, He knew heartache on a more massive scale than we can imagine. Christmas is when we remember what He did for us and we should humble ourselves.

I heard from a mom that her daughter’s school play was going over every other religion’s meaning for Christmas except the Christian one. Like, what? You afraid to offend someone by including the reason for the season? Well, I’m offended by your not doing so. I’m totally cool with you including other religious traditions, but can we stop with the anti-Christ “Christ”mases? I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of this materialistic, superficial tradition that’s shoving the real reason why we do anything this time of the year out of the picture.

The New Year is supposed to give us a fresh start or something. But what’s the difference if we’re not going to follow through with our resolutions. Key word: resolution. We’re resolving some aspect of our lives. If you’re not totally committed, don’t even say you’re going to do something. Seriously. You’re setting yourself up for failure.

What do you feel during the holiday season?

To be honest, I feel quite lonely, tense, self-conscious (more so than usual), irritable. Everyone else seems to be really anxious or really happy. Obnoxiously so in either case. I’m already sick of Christmas music. So help me if I hear another “kissing under the mistletoe” line. I’m having a hard time not mentally murdering the people I like.

I think the biggest reason why I feel the way I do during the holiday seasons is because, everywhere I look, people are smiling and being kind, and I feel next to nothing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not fun. It’s like watching all your friends get into relationships and you’re just not even interested in people in general. It’s like being at a birthday party for someone everyone likes, but you don’t. Know what I mean?

Everywhere, people are feeling things and I’m not. It’s like I’m missing out on some bigger picture thing.

Another factor, I think, that contributes to this problem o’ mine is the fact that maybe I am seeing the bigger picture, and I’m constantly remembering why we’re celebrating and it just seems like no one else is. They’re all caught up in the moment, in the gifts, in the pretty paper, and ribbons.

The fact that people are kinder during this season is also pet peeve of mine. Why only around Christmas time are you a good person? Please be consistent. If you’re usually a kind person, stick with it! You’re awesome! If you’re usually a jerk, acknowledge the fact. We can work with that. But don’t put on a mask during the holiday season.

You can fake a smile, but people remember the way you made them feel throughout the rest of the year. Don’t be a faker. This is life, not a masquerade party.

I also detest the fact that no one says “Merry Christmas” anymore. It’s all “happy holidays.” Can we not?

I suppose if we got back to the real, raw meaning of our celebrations and made that the first reason we do anything, then the rest would follow more easily. Our decisions would be based, not on what is expected of us, but what we should be doing instead.

Now it’s your turn, darling. What does Christmas really mean to you and how do you feel during the holiday season?

Love,

Rana

Our Constant Choice

Good morning, darling!

I hope you had a phenomenal week. ^_^ I’ve been fighting some sort of sickness. Maybe the flu. I’m still not over it. Oh, well.

Today, I just wanted to share something with you. I was reading my Bible last night and stumbled across Sirach 15:11-20.

11 Don’t blame the Lord for your sin; the Lord does not cause what he hates. (He may allow undesirable things to happen, but He Our Constant Choicedoes not cause them and will not lead you into temptation.)

12 Don’t claim that he has misled you; he doesn’t need the help of sinners to accomplish his purposes.

13 The Lord hates evil in all its forms, and those who fear the Lord find nothing attractive in evil.

14 When, in the beginning, the Lord created human beings, he left them free to do as they wished. (“Free will, though it makes evil possible, also makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” – C.S. Lewis)

15 If you want to, you can keep the Lord’s commands. You can decide whether you will be loyal to him or not.

16 He has placed fire and water before you; reach out and take whichever you want.

17 You have a choice between life and death; you will get whichever you choose.

18 The Lord’s wisdom and power are great and he sees everything.

19 He is aware of everything a person does, and he takes care of those who fear him.

20 He has never commanded anyone to be wicked or given anyone permission to sin.

What struck me was the fact that life is a constant choice. Being a Christian is a constant choice. It’s not a once-and-done sort of thing. You can lose your salvation (Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Peter 2:20-22; 2 Tim. 2:11-12 …)

But you know what? You can also get it back.

Salvation is a process and God wants to help us through it. As a proud (practicing) Catholic, I believe that I have been saved (Mark 16:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Romans 6:3-4), am being saved through cooperation with grace (I Cor. 1:18, I Cor. 15:1-3; II Cor. 6:1), and I will be saved if I persevere in the Faith (Matt. 10:22; Romans 2:6-7; Gal. 6:7-9).

You see, if I say I’m a Christian, but go and murder someone, I’m not acting like a Christian; therefore, I’m not a Christian. Actions are more important than words. You can say whatever you want all day long, but in the end, what matters is what you did.

We’re not saved by our works, but without them, we’re useless. (Contrary to what many believe, Catholics do not believe works save them. We believe they are necessary, but we cannot earn salvation.)

In James 2:17, we’re reminded that, “faith of itself, if it does not have work, is dead.” And in verse 24, James says, “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” And later: “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (2:26).

I encourage you all to choose life with me. 🙂

God bless!

Rana

A lesson never learned…

Let It Burn

RED

I watch the city burn
These passions slowly smoldering
A lesson never learned
Only violence
Is your world just a broken promise?
Is your love just a drop of rain?
Will we all just burn like fire?
Are you still there?
Tell me now…

Thirteen years later, we’re still fighting.

Why do people get so caught up in the lie that power, wealth, fame, will make you happy?

Why don’t we learn?

Time and time again, we see the effects of humans falling for it.

  • Heath Ledger – he had money, fame, “love” and was still unhappy. And overdose of diazepam killed him.
  • Robin Williams – he, too, had money, fame, and so many loved him. He committed suicide.
  • Earnest Hemingway – fame, family, wealth. Shotgun to the head.
  • Cleopatra – 30 B.C. Things haven’t changed, guys.

The list goes on. It’s heartbreaking.

Why do terrorist do what they do and what does that have to do with suicide?

Terrorists, although some say religion is the cause (which I believe is false – power, greed, money, etc. are the roots of most wars/terrorist actions), do what they do because:

a. …they believe so firmly in a lie that this will be good for them (behind that lie is, most likely, a greedy, selfish, power-hungry jerk).

b. …they’re intolerant of a difference in opinion.

c. …they want to feel something.

I’m sure that’s not everything. But those are a few things I think make sense.

But what does that have to do with suicide? Well, humans are naturally prideful and selfish beings. We do most things because they make us feel good about ourselves. Even altruists like myself sacrifice our immediate happiness for the sake of another because we know that it’s going to make us feel good – if not now, later. It’s better for us in the long run.

People commit suicide because they:

a. …believe it will end their pain.

b. …are hopeless.

I have so much love for those hurting. Especially for those entertaining thoughts of suicide. (If you’re that person, let me know so I can pray for you. I already do, but you know. ❤ )

Terrorists do what they do because they believe it’s good for them.

People commit suicide because they believe it’s good for them.

I promise I’m not equating a person with suicidal thoughts to terrorists. Unless you’re a kamikaze or something.

I’m just making the point that, no matter what you’ve got, it won’t be enough until you satisfy yourself with it. And, at the risk of sounding preachy and cliche, until you’ve contented yourself with the love and sacrifice of Christ.

You can keep getting, getting, and getting. But it’s never going to be enough because we were created for so much more. Guys, we’ve settled for so much and we shouldn’t have. The next iPhone, the next Wii U, the next video game, and even the next book — these things will not satisfy us. And rightfully so.

We can be happy. But happiness is a feeling. A fleeting emotion.

We can’t rely on that to get us to tomorrow because it’s as easy to catch and hold as a shadow (if you’re not Peter Pan). Enjoy it while you’ve got it, but don’t depend on it.

We need to be joyful. Joy is something that goes so much deeper than happiness. It’s a state of being. It’s something we should actively choose to be every day. That doesn’t mean we need to be happy all the time. That’s stupid and annoying.

What it does mean is that we should immerse ourselves in love (not the superficial, gross romantic kind 😉 ). Love is a sacrifice. It’s the action of willing good for others and possibly giving up your immediate happiness for their benefit. It’s not a feeling, contrary to the media’s portrayal of it.

For instance, if you’re in a bad mood, but put that aside to smile at someone who looks rather down, you’ve just shown them some love. Or when you do the dishes so your mom won’t have to – that’s love. Sharing your candy bar with a little sibling – that’s love.

Unless it’s forced.

Then it’s socialism.

Or parenting. You know, whichever. It depends on who’s doing the forcing. *shrugs*

I think if everyone smiled a little more, loved a little more seriously, and thought of more than themselves, the world would be a much better place.

What are your thoughts today as we remember the victims of the tragic 9/11/01 terrorist attacks and the current state of our world? What can we do to make it a better place to live?

God bless you, lovely. ❤

Rana